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Thread: Which plane and why

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Which plane and why

    So by now i guess most know of the new line Lee Valley have put out in the way of Handplanes.

    Yesterday i received a mini catalog with these pages in it and I thought it would be of value to put them out here for some discussion because they do a great job of showing what the big feature of this series is.

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    Personally i think these planes are a modern work of art if you one admires design and engineering and innovation. But that's just me.

    My dilemma and something i want to gather input on is something that i feel is missing from all this marketing. Sure it tells me the options i can get with each plane in excellent detail. But it kind of reminds me of the time when i was marketing a complicated system that i had acquired a patent on in an entrepreneurial manner but did not know the real value of to the customers i was trying to sell it to, so i could not put it to them at that point in time in terms of how it would relate to value for them.

    There is an assumption made again in my opinion (and i am no plane aficionado but I am a customer and a woodworker) that all woodworkers know exactly why they need each of these planes.

    I already have a #4 and a #5 and #7 all old stanleys. I have a Lee Valley low angle block plane and love it to bits. For reasons that make me want to go out and get a few of these. The biggest one is , it works and the machining etc and features are just less fiddle than my old stanleys apart from my #7.

    But i dont see any informative information on how and why i should buy one of each of these planes and what their individual purpose is.

    Now i know we say the #4 is for smoothing yeah i get that and the #5 is the good old general purpose carpenters do it all plane and i know the #7 is a jointer.

    But what about the 4 1/2 and the 5 1/2 ? Where do they fit into the process of dealing with milling a piece of wood.

    Take note were one to go out and buy one of each of the lowest cost of these planes one is looking at $1615 in planes (and for Canadians that's before the 13% tax) so in reality $1 825

    That's a lot of woodworking coin for one specific operation.

    But there is a bigger issue that's kicking around my head and preventing me from rushing off and pulling the trigger.

    With all these planes being able to be customized by frog, tote and knob besides blade, why could i not achieve a great compromise and buy a single one say the #5 and get a variety of frogs for it and perhaps even two totes and have a pretty good all round plane for use outside my initial jointing.

    Now that may be a little extreme given its length so ok lets say a #4 1/2 thrown in too because then at least i have a wide smoother.

    So that gets me down to $670 including our taxes. But now we in the realms of what i paid for my DW735 planer and my Grizzly 8 inch jointer. Yeah yeah i know not the same things if you love handtools.

    So whats your take, can you explain to me in compelling reasons why i need one of each of them.
    cheers

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Delton, Michigan
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    well rob,, this is a good question and am looking to see what glenn has to say on this, he uses a low angle plane alot for smoothing i think and would like to get something that would do that for my tool crib
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  3. #3
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    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
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    For what I do most, my 4's see the most use. I have four of them (among my 70+ 'collection'), and they all get used regularly. I prefer the heavier heft of the 4 over the 4. I actually like the WWII era version with their heavier castings.

    For the LV offering, I'd go with the 4, with two frogs - 45 and 55 - with the fine-threaded adjuster, low 'mushroom' knob and the Stanley style medium-sized tote. That would give me a very versatile smoother.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
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    Great question Rob.

    It has always seemed to me that there is a fair bit of overlap in the #4 -#5 planes. For normal users (I.e. not collectors) it seems that it's somewhat a matter of choice as to which you'd want (how to pick between them without trying though..).

    I'm not really sure that swapping frogs would be practical in use, at least not with any frequency. Possible yes, but seems somewhat fussy. For trying out an alternative angle having the option to swap out seems like it could be interesting anyway.

    While I certainly applaud the innovation, the array of choices for appear a bit overwhelming

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Sacramento, CA
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    The short answer is: You don't need one of each.

    Ignoring the "Custom" aspect of different sized handles and angle frogs, just considering the stanley #1-#8 line alone, for a moment. The variety isn't necessarily "each plane for a specific purpose" - it's more of a "each plane for a specific woodworker's preferences for a specific task". Like you said, the #4 and the #4-1/2 are pretty much the same besides width - that is a preference thing. Heck, I'd even lump the #5 in there as well since it isn't much longer.

    You're right, the marketing does a good job of letting you make an emotional decision and want to buy 'em all up. That's sort of the unsaid secret about most marketing, though, right? Say enough to get you to want it, whether you need it or not is not germane to its task: sell as many as possible. Caveat emptor is rarely served by the marketing material (and I'd argue any material provided by the one doing the selling, regardless of reputation).

    I read a lot of Patrick's Blood and Gore (http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan0a.html) and then set about using a few as I encountered friends who had them. I have a #4, #5, #8 and a #62 and the only reason I have the #5 is because it was free. I think i'm covered for all MY planing needs. I see little point in anything smaller than a #4 for my needs in bench planes (i don't include luthier's planes in this). I rarely use the #8 because i have a powered jointer and planer and am not all that anti-sandpaper - though I never consider any power tooled surface a 'finish-ready' surface because they're never that smooth.

    It's definitely up to the buyer to know what they want before they plunk down their money. The easiest way for me to know which planes I want is to get my hands on one and use it for a little bit on a purpose that I would consider frequent in my shop. That's not always easy for someone to do, i understand, if they don't have a lot of woodworking buddies nearby to swap planes with. I've been fortunate there. I can't think of a better way for someone to 'caveat' before they 'emptor' :P
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  6. #6
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    Delton, Michigan
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    Jason,, how much do you use your 62?
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  7. #7
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    Jan 2007
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    Sacramento, CA
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    Larry,

    The #62 is probably my go-to plane for just about everything. It's pretty handy and I'm not fanatical enough about bevel angles or orientation, i just get a shaving and run with that. I forgot i also built a wooden jointer plane a few years ago and use that for longer edges. Once in awhile, I break out that #5 because it's already tuned and i have kind of neglected the #4.

    I don't plane much, though, i should mention. On a given furniture project, 3 or 4 parts may see a plane. I'm neither "power" nor "neander" - i use whatever tools get me the results i want - electrons or not
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  8. #8
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    Dec 2008
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    Portland, Oregon
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    Let me be the odd man out. I don't even own a plane. Never seemed to see the need for one.
    Jesus was a Woodworker

  9. #9
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    Nov 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Mooney View Post
    Let me be the odd man out. I don't even own a plane. Never seemed to see the need for one.
    well dan once you get one and learn how to use them and where they are good for you will wonder how you ever done a project without one..

    jason,, what do you use the 62 for? smoothing or jointing or beveling.. i see where glenn B uses his for smoothing alot..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
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    Larry - that would've probable been helpful info, huh? LOL

    Most of the time, i use it for jointing shorter board's edges and some smoothing. I have a shooting board in process that was designed around it as well, so i'll likely be using it for that soon, too.
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

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